Q: Many years ago, I tried negative-only sets on most of my exercises. My partners lifted the heavy weight for me, and I lowered it slowly, six seconds on each of six reps. I got some decent strength gains but not much mass at all. That’s what gives me reservations about your negative-accentuated [or X-centric] technique. Will it build muscle for me even though pure negatives didn’t?
A: The heavy, pure-negative sets that you tried are great for building neuromuscular efficiency—the nerve connections that improve strength. You also get some muscle trauma; however, you lose muscular tension between each rep when your partners lift the weight for you…
In other words, you’re basically doing a group of slow negative-only singles with a brief rest/pause between them, releasing the target muscle from tension on each positive stroke. Those between-rep rests can last two to three seconds as the weight is lifted for you and you lock in for your next negative. That’s a problem from a size-building standpoint because tension times of 40-plus seconds have been found to produce the most muscular hypertrophy…
Now with a negative-accentuated (NA), or X-centric, set, you use a slightly lighter weight than a normal work set, but YOU raise the weight in one second and then lower in six seconds. You go to exhaustion, which should occur at around rep 7. That means the target muscle is under CONSTANT tension for almost 50 seconds…
Now, look around the gym—and even at your own workout; EVERY work set for most trainees is 20 seconds or less. No wonder muscle growth is so slow for most people. But that’s exactly why NA sets trigger a UNIQUE tension-time stress for major mass-building success. You’ll feel it working, believe us…
That long continuous tension time also triggers searing muscle burn. It can be tough driving through a series of slow-mo negatives with no tension release as the fatigue builds. But research shows that the burn can cause GROWTH HORMONE to churn. (Can J Appl Physio. 22:244-255; 1997)
What’s so great about growth hormone (GH)? It’s a potent fat burner, not to mention a supercharger of other anabolic hormones like testosterone. GH has been shown to target bellyfat and melt it off quickly, and an increase in testosterone amplifies that effect…
And speaking of fat burning, an NA set also increases muscle trauma. It’s been found that the eccentric stroke is what produces the microtears in muscle that produce soreness. And that trauma revs your metabolism when you’re outside the gym as your body repairs those microtears. That restoration process requires excess energy—and studies show that a lot of that energy comes directly from bodyfat. NA sets can help you get LEANER FASTER while building muscle!
You should be getting very excited about NA training. It’s one of our main go-to tactics i to get BIG AND RIPPED. It’s a potent mass-building and fat-shredding technique that’s proven to produce results. Yes, it hurts, but it works!
To summarize, here’s why NA sets can get you muscle mass as well as ripped to the bone fast…
- Heightened muscle trauma, which can contribute to muscle-fiber size and burn fat
- Longer continuous tension times, a proven major hypertrophic stimulus your muscles aren’t used to
- Muscle burn from fatigue accumulation, which can enhance growth hormone and the fat-burning environment
Our number-one fat-to-muscle recommendation—NA/Xcentric sets: On one set for each bodypart, go long and slow—and the target muscle will have no choice but to GROW! Plus, you’ll get ripped as the GH flows.
NOTE: For more on NA training, see The X-centric Mass Workout ebook, now only $9.00 for a limited time.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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